Thursday, December 13, 2012

Authentic Learning: Comments for Claudia


Last week, I had the tremendous pleasure of visiting Greens Farms Academy. As I've been there many times before, I expected the thoughtful dialogue with colleagues and staff.

However, something happened that I DIDN'T EXPECT. I got to have lunch with Claudia.

Claudia is an insightful, thoughtful, creative 8th grader who is currently doing her middle school capstone project on the efficacy of school reform. Since most of my projects involve some form of curricular or school reform, she asked to interview me over lunch. I expected her to ask me about "testing" and the "unfairness of school." You know, typical middle school stuff.

Well, I was shocked when her first question referenced Sir Ken Robinson and the need for creativity in schools. This girl has clearly done her homework. In her opinion, all students need the opportunity to learn in classrooms where students are doing meaningful work

She thinks that students should have time for extended discussions about difficult topics. (See this blog post about the Harkness.) She thinks that schools should be places where students apply what their learning to real situations. She wants to be creative. She wants to make things. And mostly, she doesn't want schools to become sterile places where students merely parrot back facts and procedures.

She sees school reform as something that happens inside classrooms WITH teachers, not external reorganizations or legislative mandates.

So... this is a call for help. What resource has inspired you to make you classroom a place that fosters authentic work and divergent thinking? Can you share a quote, a book, or a link that will help Claudia grow her learning and refine her writing? Leave ideas in the comments or tweet me at @KristenSwanson.

Thank you!!!!

3 comments:

  1. 2 things for Claudia...
    Here's a quote from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's book The Connected Educator that I love and challenges me to choose what I am going to be daily as an educator. "We all have a choice...to be powerful or pitiful, to be victims or activists, to take a stand on behalf of the children we serve"

    Another great resource that has changed me is Dan Pink's TED Talk on motivation. Wow! Watch it Claudia because I sure it will speak to you.
    And when he talks of "business" just replace that with "schools." http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html
    Good luck with your Capstone, Claudia.
    Jeff

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  2. Wow - isn't it refreshing to see a student like this at such a young age. My recommendations are the book - The Art of Possibility my Rosalind and Benjamin Zander. This isn't an education book but Benjamin works with young people and the concept is refreshing. Second, I am an experiential educator - so check that concept. John Dewey is the father of experiential education. It's foundation - learn apply then build on the learning. For Dewey, experiences could be judged to be educative if they led to further growth, intellectually and morally; if there was a benefit to the community; and if the experience resulted in affective qualities that led to continued growth, such as curiosity, initiative, and a sense of purpose.

    Kurt Hahn also contributed to experiential education.

    Good luck - Dr Kathy Martin


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  3. One of the best things that I came across over my years of teaching was discovering Leonardo DaVinci's 7 Principles:Curiosity, Demonstration, Sensation, Ambiguity, Art/Science Balance, Fitness, Interconnectedness. Emphasizing one and blending a few lead to some interesting journeys and results especially when teachers and students are learning together.

    I especially like ambiguity as it allows you to explore with no limits! It can be scary and you have to leave the rubrics behind, but oh! the places you will go. This really has nothing to do with reform though. It's timeless human wonder being challenged by your own inner will. I actually believe that much, if not all, of what adults consider reform does the opposite and makes for a dull class experience.

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